Under the oak tree, the sound of the jazz guitar is soft and bounces between green leaves. Your feet are kicked out, crossed in front of you. You feel warm inside, thanks to that glass of cool Pinot Grigio beside you.
It’s a good night: The weekend has arrived, the Delta breeze cools the valley’s warm airs and you’ve discovered a prescription for the long work week — a fusion of wine and music.
It’s a duo that has become popular in Lodi, especially during summer as locals look for some way to unwind on the weekends. In town, winemakers have also begun to have live music throughout the week, offering a place for people to relax every day.
While wine and music is a popular pairing around the world, Lodi’s wine industry is realizing that music helps create an ambiance that customers like. Lodi Wine Cellars in Downtown offers a variety of music, from urban jazz that is strictly acoustical, to smooth jazz and soft rock — something for every occasion.
“It’s a real mellow, relaxed wine tasting atmosphere,” Alan MacIsaac, Lodi Wine Cellars manager, said. “You can come here and have a nice date night and chat or you can conduct business.”
Lodi Wine Cellars has offered music since it opened in May of last year, but MacIsaac says live music is definitely building momentum.
Borra Vineyards started combining wine and music four years ago with their Fusion Friday events, named after their Fusion wines.
Relaxation, entertainment and good wine was their motivation for the monthly summertime event.
“Music and wine are the two things that help you relax after a long, hard week of work,” Markus Niggli, Borra Vineyards winemaker said.
Niggli says there were about 40 or 50 people who would attend. Now, the even that combines food, wine and music brings in at least 150 people on the first Friday of the month during summer.
“You pull up in a winery site and it takes you away from daily life. For just a couple of hours, you can be yourself and enjoy the moment off,” Niggli said.
At Fusion Friday, guests sit at tables surrounding a Bocce ball field. In the beginning, many get comfortable at their tables with a full glass of wine or dinner prepared by a local caterer. But as the music plays and wine glasses get a little emptier, groups starts dancing and joining in games of Bocce ball.
Just as music events have grown popular at Borra, Niggli has also noticed it’s become popular with other wineries in the Lodi area.
It was while walking the streets of Puerto Vallarta last year that Abundance Winery owner Dino Mencarini experienced the feel of live music on the streets. He returned to Lodi inspired. Now, Abundance has a steady stream of Saturday night events where guests can enjoy music with the entire family.
Stefani Shaw, Abundance tasting room manager, who also coordinates music events, says it’s a comfortable atmosphere where guests bring their own tables or chairs and picnic blankets. Guests get to know each other and enjoy an evening of free entertainment.
“I don’t think Lodi’s ever really had anything like this,” Shaw said.